Monday, 4 June 2018

Mini Review - Micro-Nikkor 55mm f3.5 AI

The Kids 
D800, Micro-Nikkor 55mm f3.5 AI

For a couple decades the 55/3.5 Micro was the answer for Nikon shooters to the question 'I need a really sharp normal lens'. Not fast, but extremely sharp, reasonably priced and a great focal length for many uses on 35mm and DX crop bodies.

I've had at least 2 of these over the years, maybe three (I don't recall exactly). The current one was a gift from my Aunt, who had bought it new with an FE body around 1980 or so (I also have that FE body, it's my last film body).  

In short, it's a brilliant little lens. It can be a bit finicky to get accurate infinity focus via an optical viewfinder, but at any other shooting distance it's quite easy to focus accurately. It is a daylight lens, at f3.5 it's just not bright enough for real low-light work off a tripod, unless you have an EVF and world-beating high ISO (think A7SII and maybe an A9 or A7III). The issue is focusing more than anything else. Surprisingly, it's also a pretty good portrait lens on DX, if you can live with manual focus. You don't really need f1.8 or faster for portraits and the 55 is a nicer length for portraiture than the 50's (it's 82.5mm-e vs 75mm-e, closer to the classic 85 FL).

Overall though, this is my go-to lens very everyday use. I've definitely used 2 other lenses more of late (My 85/1.4 and 70-300), but when I pick up a single lens to put on the camera for walkabout or any sort of general shooting, it's the 55/3.5 that gets the nod 9 out of 10 times.

If you shoot F mount, or shoot something that you can readily adapt F mount lenses to, this cheap & cheerful lens is well worth adding to your kit. Possibly more so than a 50/1.8.

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